Monday, December 13, 2004


For the past couple of weeks, Scott Peterson's attorneys have been parading family members and his close friends through the courtroom to talk about what a wonderful, caring human being he is. It was all very touching and moving, and I don't doubt that Scott really was an exemplary person.... Right up until the point he decided to chop his pregnant wife's head off and dump her body in the ocean. That's the sort of temporary lapse in judgement that--rightly or wrongly--tends to overshadow the time you helped change a total stranger's flat tire.

Today the jury proved that it wasn't moved by the warm fuzzy stories, and decided to sentence Scott Peterson to death.

I realize that most of the world considers capital punishment barbaric, but I have no problem with it in principle. If a person is guilty of deliberately killing another human being, then the death penalty is justified.

Some critics argue that it merely lowers society to the level of the murderer. Well, that may or may not be true. But it is true that the killer once made a deliberate decision to take another life. Therefore, if he or she has no problem with it, then why shouldn't the rest of us apply the same standard when it comes to meting out justice?

I will admit, however, that in the real world the death penalty is applied unevenly. All too often it is the poor and destitute who can't afford high priced legal talent who end up getting stuck with the ultimate penalty. And there have been too many recent cases in which it has turned out, thanks to advances in DNA testing, that the wrong person has been behind bars, or even on death row. Granted, to date there have been no proven cases of an innocent person being executed, but there have been close calls.

The problem isn't with the death penalty itself, but rather with the overall justice system. If we're going to sentence someone to die, we need to be damn sure that the person is truly guilty and not just the victim of an overworked public defender. But in cases where there really is no doubt--where the evidence is truly solid--there is no need to feel sorry for a cold blooded killer.

1 thoughtful ramblings:

emilializ said...

I know this is late in coming, but I felt I had to comment here. I'm against capital punishment, but most anti-capital punishment people leave me cold. Some of them are also against life imprisonment ('life' meaning until you leave this earth). If we're not going to execute people who commit heinous crimes (like Mr. Peterson), we have to have life in prison. What's also come out in the Scott Peterson case is the tendency on the part of many anti-capital punishment pieces to have 'never met a defendant who wasn't innocent.' It is clear that Peterson was guilty - yet anti-death penalty activists trot out 'explanations' like a Satanic cult killing Laci Peterson, etcetera. I don't think Peterson should be sentenced to death. Let him rot in prison - and don't pretend he's innocent.